Scrapbookpages Blog

December 31, 2011

How did the Auschwitz I gas chamber look in January 1945? (updated)

Filed under: Holocaust — Tags: , — furtherglory @ 10:26 am

Photo of Auschwitz I gas chamber taken in January 1945

My photo of Auschwitz gas chamber, Oct. 1998

In my blog post today, I am answering a comment made about my website, which shows a black and white photo of the gas chamber in the Auschwitz main camp, that was allegedly taken in January 1945. (I have since removed the photo.) This photo, which is also on the USHMM website here, is shown at the top of my post.  Compare this photo with the color photo above, which I took in 1998.

There is no door on the right side of my 1998 color photo because the wall on the right side is an exterior wall.  On the other side of the wall on the right is a mound of dirt.

The man who made the comment on my blog noticed that the old black and white photo on my website (which I have since removed) had been reversed. That’s right. I reversed the photo myself when I put it on my website years ago. The original photo, which I copied and put on my website years ago, was a mirror image of the black and white photo above. It showed the door on the right in the photo above as a door on the left side, claiming that this was a door into the oven room.  I knew that the door into the oven room had been closed up by the Germans when they converted the gas chamber into a bomb shelter in September 1944.  So I assumed that this was a fake photo, done by the Soviet Union, in an effort to claim that the gas chamber in the main Auschwitz camp was original and that it had never been converted into a bomb shelter.

For over 50 years, the staff at the Auschwitz main camp told visitors that the gas chamber in the main Auschwitz camp was original and not a reconstruction done by the Soviet Union.  After Auschwitz-Birkenau was liberated by Soviet troops on January 27, 1945, the gas chamber in the main camp, which had been converted into a bomb shelter by the Nazis, was reconstructed by the Soviet Union with a new door cut into the wall for an entrance into the oven room.

My photo of the Auschwitz I gas chamber, taken in 2005, is shown below.

My photo of Auschwitz I gas chamber taken in 2005

The Krema I gas chamber in the main Auschwitz camp, shown in the photo above, is a reconstruction which was done by the Soviet Union in 1947.  A new entrance door, which can be seen in the background of the photo above, had been added by the Germans in 1944.  For years, visitors to Auschwitz were told that this was the entrance through which the victims entered the gas chamber.

In September 1944, the original gas chamber had been divided into four small rooms when it was converted into an air raid shelter. In the photo above, you can see the reconstructed opening into the oven room on the left hand side. According to the Auschwitz Museum, this opening had been closed up when the gas chamber was converted into an air raid shelter. During the reconstruction, the opening into the oven room was moved a few feet.  The new opening does not line up with the tracks for the trolleys that were used to shove the bodies into the ovens, as shown in the photo below.

New door into the oven room that was added in 1947 when gas chamber was reconstructed (1998 photo)

My 1998 photo above shows the new doorway which was cut when the gas chamber was reconstructed in 1947; as you can see, there is no door frame, nor any marks where a door frame was removed. The original doorway was closed up when the gas chamber was converted into an air raid shelter, according to the Auschwitz Museum. The reconstructed doorway is about two and a half feet closer to the ovens than the original doorway which was lined up with the trolley tracks.

Tracks inside the Auschwitz oven room do not line up with the new door added during the reconstruction in 1947

This quote is from my website on the page where I previously showed the old black and white photo which I reversed (I have since removed this photo):

The photo below shows the gas chamber in the Auschwitz main camp, as it looked in January 1945 after the camp was liberated by the Soviet Union.

This view of the gas chamber in Krema I at the main Auschwitz camp shows how the room looked when the camp was liberated by the Soviet Union on January 27, 1945. The gas chamber had been converted into an air raid shelter and a new door, shown in the background of the photo, had been cut. Notice that there is no door into the oven room on the left side; this door had been closed up when the room was converted into an air raid shelter.

I could have written on my website that the photo, taken by the Soviet Union, was a fake photo with a door added, but I didn’t want to be called a Holocaust denier.  Keep in mind that David Irving became the worst kind of criminal in the world, a Holocaust denier, when he pointed out that the gas chamber in the main Auschwitz camp was a reconstruction.  At the time that I first put this photo up on my scrapbookpages website, I was traveling to Germany twice a year.  I didn’t want to wind up in prison for five years because of pointing out a fake photo, so that’s why I reversed the photo, and showed that the gas chamber had no door into the oven room when the camp was liberated.

I don’t recall where I first saw the gas chamber photo that I copied and then reversed.  The USHMM has also reversed the photo, or maybe they copied the reversed photo from my website.  In any case, the reversed photo correctly shows what the gas chamber looked like in January 1945 but without the door on the right side.

The photo below shows the original blueprint of the Auschwitz main camp gas chamber and crematorium.

Original blueprint of Auschwitz I crematorium

The photo above shows the original blueprint for the Krema I (Crematorium One) building in the Auschwitz main camp. The morgue, shown on the bottom right hand side of the blueprint, has a door into the oven room and another door into the washroom. On the blueprint, the morgue is labeled Leichenkeller which is the German word for a corpse cellar.  The gas chamber was originally in the same location as the morgue and it did not include the area of the washroom, as it does now.

Note the door from the vestibule into the washroom that is shown on the blueprint; this door no longer exists and the area of the former wash room is included in the reconstructed gas chamber.

Was it wrong for the staff at Auschwitz to claim that the gas chamber in the main camp is original?  Not according to Robert Jan van Pelt who wrote that this was done for the sake of visitors who want to see a gas chamber when they go to Auschwitz.

Was it wrong for me to reverse an old photo of the gas chamber?  I don’t think so.  I wanted to show what the gas chamber really looked like when the Soviets arrived, and at the same time, I wanted to show that there was no door into the oven room in January 1945 when this photo was allegedly taken.  I thought that the Soviets had reversed the original photo and added a door.  I reversed the photo back to the way I thought it was originally taken.

Update Jan. 1, 2012:

On this page of my website, I show the original old black and white photo of the Auschwitz I gas chamber with a photo credit to the USHMM.  I did this part of my web site in 2005.

Display board outside of Auschwitz I gas chamber building

The photo above shows a poster, which is located outside the gas chamber building in the Auschwitz main camp. On the left, the poster depicts the layout of the gas chamber building as it originally looked and on the right, the way it looked after the gas chamber was reconstructed in 1947.

The gas chamber room was originally used as a morgue to store corpses prior to cremation in the ovens. According to the model on the poster, neither the gas chamber nor the morgue included the area where a washroom was once located. This means that the victims had to go through two small rooms to get to the gas chamber, and that neither the morgue, nor the gas chamber, had a floor drain since the only drain that can be seen today is in the washroom area of the reconstructed gas chamber. The gas chamber, as seen by tourists today, includes the area of the former washroom.

When the building was converted into an air raid shelter in September 1944, a new door was cut into the gas chamber room, as shown on the right hand side of the poster.

During the time that the building was used as an air raid shelter, the morgue room was divided into four small rooms. During the reconstruction in 1947, the walls of the small rooms in the morgue were removed, along with the wall of the small washroom. The washroom is designated by the letter b on the poster shown in the photo above. The wall of the washroom is shown as a dotted line in the diagram on the right, which shows the gas chamber the way it looks today.

The most recent comments on my blog have left me confused.  I will leave it to the experts to sort this out.

Update Jan. 2, 2012: 

My thanks to Bob and all the others who commented on this post and set the facts straight.

Thanks a million to Bob who did the comparison of the old black and white photo with my 2005 photo of the gas chamber, shown below:

Comparison of Auschwitz gas chamber photos, contributed by Bob

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